With Air Ride Suspension System Hendrickson, a manufacturer of suspension systems for the transportation industry, announced the release of the AirTek, an integrated front air suspension and steer axle. According to Keith Stephenson, president of Hendrickson International's Truck Suspension group, the company has conquered the front air ride suspension dilemma by utilizing Hendrickson's patented front axle design with a specially-engineered Hendrickson suspension system.

"We've created an integrated and advanced module option for OEMs to utilize that addresses the industry's desire to have a comfortable ride and steering stability," said Stephenson. "The AirTek suspension in combination with the SteerTek axle provides the engineering solution to this desire."

The module solution improves roll stability by more than 20% compared to other systems under laboratory testing conditions, according to Stephenson. "SteerTek's patented box-shaped axle beam resists vertical and longitudinal loads more effectively than traditional axle beams, reducing the variations and changes in dynamic camber and toe angles," said Stephenson. "We also believe that by improving the suspension kinematics and steering geometry, we are able to reduce bump steer, wheel kick, vibration, and other undesirable steering reactions.

"AirTek incorporates a patented leaf spring design that shares the loads equally with the specially designed air springs," said Stephenson. "The springs are designed to share 50% of the vertical load, while providing a very low spring rate."

The steering and tie-rod arms have been integrated for increased strength and reduced weight. The specially designed knuckle can deliver a 50-degree wheel cut.

The 12,000-lb rated AirTek suspension module will be available on Freightliner products beginning in April 2001.